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I just want to be a mum and am in utter despair at all doors closing (long, sorry!)

41 replies

ElizabethDarcy · 05/01/2012 10:31

Background... married 10 years, been trying to have a child... biggest desire for us both. Changed careers from manic publishing world to becoming a childminder, so I could be home for the kids we would (hopefully) have.

After being guinea pigs for a while, and DH undergoing an intricate procedure, docs came to the conclusion that DH has no sperm so the chances of us having one together are gone. I have been tested, all fine fertility-wise (and genetically good breeders), but was obese due to continual steroid use due to bad asthma for years.

Looked at adoption: Declined as overweight, a childminder, practicing Christian, South African roots, only have black babies in borough and don't adopt interracially. Xmas Confused

I had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy in 2010 as a last resort of getting off steroids for asthma, as a kick start for weight loss able to actually take place. Even when I ate practically nothing, my weight would climb. To date weight loss is just over 5 stone, only a couple to go! Grin Op was a lifesaver, of course I also watch my eating (I have always been pretty good though), and can attend gym far easier now with less weight and asthma being so much better. Feel like I have a new life! Smile

We did find a high risk pregnancy fertility specialist a couple of years ago who would help us and told us the BMI sizes he had had successful pregnancies with (my asthma was a bigger problem, so he said to work on both)... I am now there, so we excitedly wrote to him last week to say we can start the process! Imagine our utter shock and despair at receiving an email from the clinic, saying the dear Doctor had died of cancer in December and the practice would be closing. Sad

I have spent the last two days crying. Am devastated. Firstly, he was a young man (47), who had helped bring such joy into so many couple's lives, what a huge loss to his family, the fertility world, he did pioneering work in London, which continued in SA. Plus the poor man - he was so warm and kind and compassionate. To die so young. And then of course for us... with that (final) door firmly shut, how the hell are we going to have kids now?

So... we have come to the decision (so hard to make as DH has been in a stable job for nigh on 10 years, and I have a bustling CM business that I love!) to move to South Africa this year, where we WILL be able to adopt children. The social workers we have spoken to there are crying out for adopters. They are realistic, and the fact we are happily married, don't have criminal records, don't smoke/drink, pay tax et al actually give us some credance. We were made to feel so unworthy of being a parent by the UK SWs we have spoken to. Yes, we might be turning our comfortable and settled lives upside down, but the desire to be parents far outweighs everything else.

Thank you if you have been reading this all, you must have a numb bum! Just had to get this off my chest. Looking after my adorable mindees has kept me sane and filled a huge gap for 5 years, but we need more.

I just want to be a mum.

OP posts:
ElizabethDarcy · 05/01/2012 11:25

I am 38.

We have duel citizenship... so yes... we can adopt there (we want a house full of kids, have always thought of adopting siblings, thus keeping a family of siblings together) and we always have the choice of coming back to the UK in the future.

Interestingly, DH (early 40s) has been seeing how my CM business has flourished over the years, he is really good with kids, and was thinking of joining me in business... and so us moving there would open up another whole field... we are now thinking of him training to be a teacher, me furthering my teaching studies too (I have a design degree, which, apart from me being uber creative with the mindees, does nothing more for me in my current business), and us starting a farm school in South Africa together... helping educate underpriviliged children primarily. We'd have rescue donkeys, guinea pigs, chickens etc.

If we do that it would be very hard to then come back to the UK I would think. It's hard enough closing up my lovely business here in London, which is loads smaller than the farm school would be.

OP posts:
oranges123 · 05/01/2012 11:25

Just wondering - have you thought of trying a fertility clinic abroad? The ones in Spain, for example, are often wonderful - I am sure in other countries too - and I think might be less concerned about weight issues, certainly if your BMI is not still drastically high after all your weight loss. Maybe too expensive but perhaps an option to consider before the upheaval of moving to SA?

Ephiny · 05/01/2012 11:25

Why would being a childminder count against you? I would have thought that was ideal - lots of experience with looking after children, proving you know what you're doing, and presumably you work from home so would be around all the time for the child. OK the child won't have your undivided attention all day - but that would be the case if you had any job at all, or if there were siblings to look after.

As for Christian, South African (presumably white?) - I guess it's not exactly that it would count against you in itself, but that most of the children needing homes will not match that background?

The overweight thing sounds odd. I could understand if it was a very extreme case, but if you're fit and well enough to be looking after your mindees, it shouldn't be a problem surely.

sterrryerryoh · 05/01/2012 11:27

Hi. I'm so sorry to hear of all of your troubles, and I really hope that you find your path soon. I was in a similar position to you - TTC for the longest time, fertility testing telling us that there was no chance, and then going down the adoption route after 9 years. It took us a year and a half to be approved, then another 5 months to be linked to a child, followed by 2 months befire we brought him home, and then 10 months until we officially and legally adopted him.

From my own perspective, I would suggest checking adoption out again. There have been changes in legislation this year, partly to consider non-ethnical matches, and if your own local authority have no spaces, why not consider another local authority? Or an adoption agency?
We adopted with a different local authority than the one we lived in (in fact, we were welcomed, because authorities like to place their own children with families, and it is easier when those families live further away, as there is less likelihood of running into birth families)

I will say, however, that adoption isn't about you (meant in the kindest possible way) - it is, and always will be, about the child. It is a very difficult route to parenthood, but when successful, it is the most wonderful and rewarding experience in the world.
It's worth contacting Adoption Uk if adoption is the way forward for you. They are incredibly helpful, and the message boards are full of people who have been in situations like yours - many of them successful adopters.

The adoption process is unnecessarily long, and there is a lot of red tape (and not enough social workers) but there can be a real issue of identity with matching children to parents of different ethnicity. It is not always the best decision for the child, but it is also not a hard and fast rule. Most local authority agencies will not rule prospective adopters out just based on what children are available for adoption at that time - the ethnic issues/finding suitable matches come well after you are approved as adopters.

Also, there were more than 50 adoptions last year. There were over 65,000 children in care, and over 3,000 were adopted. Of that figure, only 60 were under 1 year old. This is the reason for the change in legislation - because it can take so long, children are remaining in care past their first birthday, even though there are parents/families waiting for the. My son was one of those 60 - we were amongst the lucky ones, and we adopted him at 4 months old.

I understand the despair that you are feeling, and I really hope that you get some good advice and add to your family soon. PM me if you would like a chat?

ElizabethDarcy · 05/01/2012 11:34

When we first married we always thought we'd have our own biological children, plus adopt as well. So adoption is something we have always looked at anyhow.

Re how far we got in the adoption process, we went to 4 different boroughs, and their open evenings, and were point blank told we were not good candidates due to reasons mentioned.

The being Christian was a huge surprise, I think they assume we might be anti gay? Funny really, being in the creative industry for so many years, we have loads of gay pals.

Being South African in heritage... they asked if we would ever think of moving back... because they are keen for the adopted child to still have contact with their biological parent here in the UK. Which sounds daft to me tbh, they were taken away from them! I have 3 friends who have adopted here and one has to take their (adopted) child to see the biological mum once a year... and the other 2 have letterbox contact with their biological parents.

Being overweight... well I focus on the under 3s and (have a variation as have siblings) look after 4 x under 3s... never sit down and am on my toes from sun up till sundown. Weight plays no role in the level of care my mindees receive.

Interracial adoption. A child is a child. There are thousands of children who have cross-cultural parents. London pals of ours adopted 2 black children form Ethiopia, then had two biological children of their own. They have a colourful, happy home, it's great! Smile

OP posts:
ElizabethDarcy · 05/01/2012 11:40

The SW said me being a childminder is not ideal as my attention would be diverted from the adopted child. So I asked whether would it be better for me to have an office job and they go to nursery...? This doesn't make sense to me at all either. Surely being with (new) mum is best?

I will look back at all replies soon, am popping out (out of milk and need new wellies!). Thank you so much for your posts, keen to hear all your advice/opinions. There are 2 different topics here.. adopting.. and then sperm donor... 2 huge topics on their own.

OP posts:
Pops78 · 05/01/2012 11:54

Best of luck , all sounds so unfair, you are certainly not being unreasonable just following your heart. I hope you find a lovely new life in SA and a lucky baby to love or more :)

keSnowBi · 05/01/2012 12:00

A dear friend used a cryobank and had a round of IVF on her council. She is due in April (yay!) The european sperm bank includes photos and voice recordings of the men so you could get a very close match to what you require.

I do find the adoption laws in this country baffling. Even if it's confusing for a black child to grow up with white parents, surely it's still better than the loveless loneliness of care?

KatMumsnet · 05/01/2012 12:23

Hi OP, we've moved your thread into 'Adoptions'. Hope you can find the support you need.

Panda1234 · 05/01/2012 12:34

A couple of things - you said you wrote to the clinic last week, and presumably just got a reply. If you were pinning all your hopes on that clinic then it's obviously going to be really upsetting that it's closing - maybe you need a bit more time to absorb the impact of that and think through any more options about donor sperm, rather than jumping from one clinic shutting to having to move to SA to adopt? That's a pretty big change of plan, after all.

I'm pg at the moment but after going through 18 months of fertility treatment, including treatments being cancelled, miscarriages and whatnot - from personal experience, just after a major disappointment is often not the best time to make big decisions.

I think I'm right in saying that in the US, BMI is less of an issue - it might be worth investigating some clinics there? The Stirrup Queens website is a US based website, and would be a reasonable place to start looking. Or clinics in Europe (Czech Republic and Budapest seem to be the main centers), or even in SA where you could combine a cycle with finding out about how feasible it would be to move back? Think there's a reputable clinic in Cape Town - and there must be others in the UK that will treat you, too. Fertility treatment is expensive and there's a lot of uncertaintly, but it might be worth you having at least one or two shots so you never have that 'what if I had tried...' hanging over you?

I really hope it works out for you.

sterrryerryoh · 05/01/2012 17:05

I think you need some clarity in advice, op. I know several christian couples who have adopted. Religion is discussed during home study, and is not a reason to exclude prospective adopters.
With reference to I mentioned previously, the rule book is changing on this subject, and again ethnic differences should not be a reason to stop prospective adopters from applying to be approved... however, many adopted children have issues of identity and being a different race from their parents and how that is managed, is something that would need to be discussed. But that is way down the line from the stage you are at.
Contact with birth family is unique to each child. Our son has contact with birth siblings but not birth parents. Two of his siblings have contact with birth mother, but not birth father. It very much depends on the situation. But, social services do need to know where you will be and what your plans are during the adoption process, as they have a duty of care, legally, for the child until the adoption order is granted.
I would suggest getting some independent advice before you uproot your life. Hope this helps.

himynameisfred · 06/01/2012 19:04

OP, reading the title alone 'I just want to be a mum' is a truly beautiful thing to hear. There's nothing more giving and self sacrificing you can do in life.
Being a mother and embracing every bit of it is.. just godly, in my eyes.

I'm sorry you went through so much here in the UK as everyone else is.

I wonder why how come you don't find a sperm donor and concieve with a syringe? It can be done at home. If you have normal fertility.

If you specifically want to adopt, which could be more challenging, as I'm sure you've found out through looking into, then I think you'd make great adoptive parents, no mattter how you get there in the end! x

himynameisfred · 06/01/2012 19:15

UK social workers making anyone feel unworthy of being a parent is completely the norm in my experience.
I'm not sure I've met one social worker whose ever been a full on parent themselves.
I think they should introduce a 'must have had children yourself' entry requirement. Then their priorities would be reasonable.

CheerfulYank · 06/01/2012 19:31

Being a Christian works against you? Shock Whatever for ?

Here the slogan is "you don't have to be perfect, to be a perfect parent." If you want a child, are stable and loving, and aren't too picky about age, you can have one in a matter of months.

Lilka · 06/01/2012 22:18

I've never encounterd religion being against you before unless it's fundamentalism, I suppose maybe if you are in an inner city, lots of the children are coming from other religions, so they can't match you with those children?

Cheerful Yank - having been on an American forum for a while now, I've seen so many families who are open on age, waiting years to adopt. Getting a foster child is pretty quick, but you've no guaruntee of adoption unless they've TPR'ed already. And the children on photolistings who are legally free often have serious trauma issues. So it's a matter of being open to challenging behavior and psychiatric dx's etc. And in infant adoption I've seen people wait over 3 years...they were open on race, gender etc. To me, it seems just as unpredictable as British adoption, with the exeption that a domestic infant homestudy is a pretty quick process, certainly much quicker than foster care adoption. It's sad seeing so many American families going through the same things I did - SW's not bothering to respond to photolisting requests, lack of post adoption support etc.

CheerfulYank · 06/01/2012 23:11

Oh yes...I knew that about the challenging behaviors. Sorry. I didn't mean to imply that it was an instant process. It's just that everyone I've ever known personally who has wanted to go through the foster system has had a child placed with them in months.

Sorry again!

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